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Cersei Lannister Would Eat All of These Women for Breakfast

By Genevieve Burgess | TV | July 5, 2024 |

By Genevieve Burgess | TV | July 5, 2024 |


HotDSexism.jpg

This week’s House of the Dragon revealed that Alicent’s entire reason for crowning her feckless son, Aegon, in direct violation of the previously established order of succession was a total misunderstanding of Viserys rambling about Aegon the Conquerer and the prophecy of “The Prince who was Promised” as he was dying. She doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. Rhaenyra has been resisting open warfare to take back her throne even after the loss of her son, because she doesn’t want anyone to get hurt. Rhaenys is counseling Rhaenyra that she needs to be careful with her council if she doesn’t want anyone to get hurt, and Baela declined to light up the Criston Cole party with Moondancer when she had the chance because she was following orders not to engage. Even Mysaria, a woman who’s had to claw her way up from nothing, talks only of ensuring the safety of the smallfolk in her decision to ally herself with Rhaenyra rather than Aegon.

The men of House of the Dragon may need therapy but the women could use some resolve. Cersei Lannister would devour all of these women. Hell, Olenna Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell, Arya Stark, late-seasons Sansa Stark, and Daenerys Targaryen would also tell these women that there are times to choose violence.

I realize that the response to Daenerys going full blow-torch on King’s Landing was… generally negative, but it’s starting to feel like the writers took the message that we can NEVER watch a woman express aggression or make an offensive move without hating her. We’re getting to the point where the women on the show who are supposed to make their case as leaders feel ineffectual. What’s the point of power if you’re too scared to wield it? If Rhaenyra genuinely thinks that Aegon and Aemond are so dangerous for the realm, isn’t it worse for the people if she doesn’t use force to oust them as quickly as possible? If Alicent is convinced that her son is the rightful ruler, wouldn’t putting down a rebellion swiftly be the best way to legitimize him?

To a certain extent, the show is hamstrung by the source material, written as a history so it’s heavy on details and scant on storytelling. What we’re watching is the attempt to connect the dots while staying true to those details. But even within those confines, the attitudes and personalities of the characters could still flex a bit. Alicent could be the sympathetic child bride in the first season and a woman hardened to the suffering of others by the second who only looks out for her own family. Rhaenyra could be the genuinely wronged party trying to gain her throne through diplomacy, up until her son is murdered, and she decides to use a show of force to bring her wayward allies around. Rhaenyra’s last-ditch attempt to get through to Alicent was always a futile effort, and it’s not up to Alicent anymore if it ever truly was. Otto Hightower likely would have crowned Aegon no matter what, it was just easier with Alicent on his side. Rhaenyra convinced herself it would work as a way to avoid confronting the reality of aggression, the way Alicent has convinced herself that she has any control over Aegon or Criston to avoid seeing what she’s helped to set in motion.

While we’re imagining ways to balance sympathy and violence, remember when Cersei burned down the sept? That was awesome.